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Vaccines for CSM In Next Week   
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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has approved the production of the vaccine needed to fight the new strain of the bacterium, W135, that has caused an outbreak of cerebrospinal meningitis (CSM) in the Upper West Region and parts of the Northern Region.

With that hurdle cleared, the manufacturer can now produce the vaccine, which is expected to arrive in the country between five and seven days.

The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Elias Kavinah Sory, who disclosed this, explained that because the vaccine against the W 135 strain was expensive and the strain was not common, the WHO did not stock it but only produced it when needed.

He added that in response to a request from Ghana to the local WHO office, after all the appropriate documents had been signed by the Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Oakley Kwei Kumah, the WHO Country Representative, Dr Daniel Kertez, forwarded the request to the WHO Headquarters in Geneva last Monday and the International Co-ordinating Group immediately gave approval for the production of the vaccine.

He said the vaccine, when produced, would be sent to Ghana by air, explaining that the production and the transportation were expected to take between five and seven days.

Meanwhile, Dr Sory said, vaccination was ongoing in the communities affected with vaccine already in the country and which had always been used against the normal meningitis bacterium that affected people in this country.

According to him, there were three strains of the CSM bacterium, labelled A, B and W135.

He explained that not all the cases seen were caused by the W135 bacterium so "we are still vaccinating people against the A and B types".

He said in Jirapa, for instance, the strategy was to vaccinate pupils and students at all the levels of the educational ladder.

Dr Sory stated, however, that while awaiting the arrival of the W135 vaccine, the GHS Technical Committee was determining the safety of vaccinating people who had already had the normal vaccine with the Wl35 again.

He emphasised, however, that it took not less than a week after the vaccination of those not infected to be protected.

Hence, what was important was early reporting by people infected for treatment, as there were enough antibiotics and logistics to treat them, he said, and advised that anyone with symptoms of headache, neck pains, stiffness of the neck and vomiting should quickly report for treatment.

In the Upper West Region, however, concerns are high at the CSM situation could soon get out of hand if the vaccine does not arrive immediately.

The Upper West Regional Director of Health Services, Dr Alexis Nang Beifubah, said with the current weather conditions which favoured the spread of the disease, time was running out.

He said the regional health directorate was doing its best to manage the reported cases by delivering prompt and effective treatment and mass education. However, what was critically missing was the vaccine from the WHO. He described the present situation in the Jirapa district as an epidemic.

Dr Beifubah referred to an increase in the number of cases in the Jirapa District from 53 to 59 but said the death rate had not gone up.

"The Lawra District has recorded 11 cases, with no deaths; Nadowli, 14 cases, with four deaths, and Wa East, one case, with no death," he noted, and said the Wa municipality had now recorded 18 cases, with an additional death taking the number of deaths in the municipality to six.

The Wa West District, according to the regional health director, had also recorded six cases, with no deaths.

Meanwhile, the Lambussie, Sissala East and Sissala West districts are yet to record any cases of CSM.

Dr Beifubah advised people to continue to remain calm and stick to the directives given by health personnel. He reiterated the need for residents to sleep in well ventilated rooms, avoid overcrowding and continue to take in more water.
Source: Daily Graphic/Ghana

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